If you live in our area of Ohio you know that every spring many locals come out of hibernation and proceed directly into the woods in search of morel mushrooms. The morel chasers will begin showing up in coffee shops with great tales of shopping bags full and pictures of large finds will fill the social media sites. It’s worth noting that mushroomers aren’t as big a liars as fishermen but only because their season is so much shorter.
I’ve never been good at finding mushrooms. When I was building my house in the woods a woman walked through the woods and told me very pointedly that I was destroying one of the best mushroom plots known to humanity. In following years I and friends walked these woods and came up empty every time. I’m pretty convinced I couldn’t find a morel if one walked up, kicked me in the chin, and barked.
We did find a small crop of spikes (what some locals call dog peckers) once but they weren’t in the woods. My wife’s old Pontiac had a leak in the rear window and the carpet was moist. She called me to the car one day and point to this small forest of spikes growing out of the carpet. Obviously there had been some spores on the soles of one of the kids shoes and they got buried in the carpet.
Over the years various people have hunted our woods with mixed success. Last year, however, all the stars must have aligned and our son-in-law came across the motherload. For maybe the only time we had enough morels to get tired of eating them.
Wild morel mushrooms are elusive creatures. If the temperature and rainfall is absolutely perfect, which occasionally happens, the spring crop will be extraordinary. If not you maybe lucky to even find enough for a single meal. For years I’ve heard that cultivating morels was impossible but in the latest edition of Country Living magazine I noticed an advertisement from a California company selling what they claim is all you need to grow your own.
Since I didn’t know this to be true I did just a little research and discovered lots of people are working on perfecting methods to successfully cultivate morels. One of the websites devoted to morels specifically focuses on Ohio and could be of interest to many of you. I’ve also included a short video produced by a group in the Northwest demonstrating how they have been successful.
So, if you’re a mushroom lover and maybe getting too old for the chase, maybe you should consider planting and tending a garden of morels a little closer to home. And, if this works and you should end up with more than you can handle…sure I’d take a bread sack full!